Important Hudson River School Artist Rediscovered in Exhibition at Friends of Historic Kingston Gallery
Jervis McEntee receives first museum retrospective starting May 1, 2015
The Hudson River School, America’s first major art movement, is so well-known and its artists—Thomas Cole, Frederic Church and Albert Bierstadt, among others—so widely exhibited that it seems inconceivable that one of their colleagues, Jervis McEntee (1828-1891), has never received a major museum exhibition. To remedy this oversight, McEntee will be receiving two exhibitions from Hudson Valley museums starting this spring.
The Friends of Historic Kingston (FHK) will present the exhibition “Jervis McEntee: Kingston’s Artist of the Hudson River School” from May 1 to October 31, 2015. Along with a companion exhibition at the Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art, SUNY New Paltz, on view from August 26 to December 13, 2015, this will be the first presentation of the work of this Kingston native, one of the leading members of the Hudson River School. The exhibition at the Friends of Historic Kingston will be in its gallery at the corner of Wall and Main Streets in Kingston’s Stockade District. The exhibition will be on view Fridays and Saturdays from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
The Friends’ McEntee exhibition will portray the artist among family members in his Rondout neighborhood, where he lived his entire life, and also among the circle of artists with whom he painted on sketching trips in the Hudson Valley, the Catskills and Adirondacks, and in New York City. It will feature never-before-seen works from the McEntee family and local collectors and works from museums as diverse as the Adirondack Museum, the St. Johnsbury Athenaeum in Vermont, and the Senate House State Historic Site in Kingston.
“Jervis McEntee: Kingston’s Artist of the Hudson River School” is made possible by many funders. Major support is coming from the Local Economies Project, The Fred J. Johnston Trust and the New York Council for the Humanities. Other funders include Floyd Lattin and Ward Mintz; Lowell and Suzanne Thing; Hayes Clement; Rondout Savings Bank; Arts Mid-Hudson; Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area; Catskill Hudson Bank; and Community Foundations of the Hudson Valley.
In celebration of the McEntee exhibition, the Friends is presenting, on April 26, a special lecture by renowned American art scholar, Dr. Linda S. Ferber, Senior Art Historian and Museum Director Emerita at the New-York Historical Society. The lecture, entitled “Jervis McEntee: Hudson River School Master of the Melancholy Landscape,” begins at 2:00 p.m., in the Kirkland Hotel’s Senate Room, at the corner of Clinton Avenue and Main Street in Uptown Kingston.
The guest curator of “Jervis McEntee: Kingston’s Artist of the Hudson River School” is Lowell Thing, Kingston resident and former Friends Board Chair. Mr. Thing is also contributing an essay, along with Dr. William B. Rhoads, to a full-color catalogue of the McEntee exhibition, co-published with Black Dome Press. Lowell Thing is also the author of the forthcoming book, The Street that Built a City, a history of Rondout’s Chestnut Street, also published by Black Dome Press.
Jervis McEntee was the son of the Chief Engineer of the Delaware & Hudson Canal, which brought coal to Kingston’s Rondout port from the Pennsylvania coalfields. James McEntee, Jervis’s father, bought land on a hill overlooking the Rondout Creek and Hudson River and built his family’s homestead, which eventually included an art studio for his son, Jervis. The studio was designed by the celebrated architect, Calvert Vaux, co-designer of Central Park in New York City, who married McEntee’s sister while the studio was being built.
Like many American painters of his day, McEntee chose landscapes as the subjects of his paintings. He briefly received instruction from painter Frederic Edwin Church, the builder of Olana, and almost immediately began selling paintings. McEntee’s preference for the landscape was also closely tied to his enjoyment of the outdoors. In his journal, he frequently mentions taking long walks from the family homestead in all directions. On these walks, he noticed views that he would return to and draw or paint. Surviving works show views across the Hudson River from Rondout; Hussey Hill, across the Rondout Creek to the south; and scenes in fall and winter along the Rondout and Esopus Creeks, including locations close to uptown Kingston and nearby Hurley.
In addition to paintings, other works on view in “Jervis McEntee: Kingston’s Artist of the Hudson River School” include drawings by the artist; vintage photographs of McEntee family members and close friends, including Edwin Booth, the famous 19th century actor and brother of John Wilkes Booth, President Lincoln’s assassin; and illustrated books by the artist.
The Friends is presenting a series of noontime programs connected to the McEntee exhibition on Fridays starting in May. It is also co-sponsoring, along with the Arts Society of Kingston, the Hurley Heritage Society and Local Economies Project, a Plein Air Painting Day on the Hurley Flats in September. For further information on all programs, contact the Friends at (845) 339-0720 or online at www.fohk.org.